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Top things to know about freelancers in 2018

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Work is changing. Innovation in AI and robotics is already having a significant impact on our future and the jobs that our world needs. Freelancers now play a critical role in the rapid evolution of work and will continue to play a bigger role than you realize, with new research from Upwork and Freelancers Union predicting that the majority of the U.S. workforce will freelance by 2027. Take a look at what you should know about freelancers (now 36% of our workforce) as you plan ahead for the New Year.

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Top things to know about freelancers in 2018

  1. 1. © 2017 Upwork Inc. Proprietary and confidential. Do not distribute. Top things to know
 about freelancers in 2018
  2. 2. 1. The freelance workforce is bigger than people realize. McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) estimates that approximately 162 million people freelance in the U.S. and EU-15 combined, and a recent study by Upwork and Freelancers Union found that 57.3 million freelanced in the U.S. alone this year. The freelancer workforce grew three times faster than the U.S. workforce overall since 2014. Source: Freelancing in America: 2017
  3. 3. 2. Some day sooner than you think, most people will freelance. Because growth of the freelance workforce is accelerating and outpacing growth of the overall workforce, the U.S. is approaching a big milestone. We predict that the majority of the U.S. workforce will be freelancing within about a decade (by 2027). Recent findings from Future Workforce Report show clients are increasingly hiring freelancers too - nearly half (48%) are already utilizing flexible workers, and 55% of these expect to have more freelancers in 2017. Source: Freelancing in America: 2017
  4. 4. 3. This is not the scary “gig economy” some people paint it as. Freelancers prefer the term “freelance economy” for those finding work independently (49%), with “on-demand economy” their second choice at 25% preference, followed by “sharing economy” (13 %) and “gig economy” last at only 10%. People are choosing this way of working, with 63% starting by choice (up 10 points since 2014), and 50% say they wouldn’t take a traditional job no matter how much money they were offered. Source: Freelancing in America: 2017
  5. 5. 4. Freelancing is about freedom. This year, almost 5 million moonlighters in the U.S. said they want to make the leap to work entirely independently. We’re already seeing trends in people graduating from moonlighting to part-time freelancing and then on to full-time freelancing. Freedom and flexibility are the main drivers behind the growth of freelancing. Source: Freelancing in America: 2017
  6. 6. 5. Technology is enabling more freelancing. Technology is making it easier to find freelance work. More people (61%) are finding work online, and freelancers are increasingly finding a greater share of work this way with 71% saying the amount of work they obtain online increased this year (up 5 points since 2016). Those finding work online typically start projects within a week. Source: Freelancing in America: 2017
  7. 7. 6. Freelancers are better equipped for the future. 54% of the U.S. workforce is not very confident that the work they do today is likely to exist in 20 years — a common belief shared by both freelancers and non-freelancers. Yet freelancers are much more aware of automation’s potential impacts; 55% agree that they’re concerned about its impact on their livelihood versus only 29% of non-freelancers. Freelancers are proactively preparing, with almost twice as many having participated in skills-related education in the past six months compared to non-freelancers. Source: Freelancing in America: 2017
  8. 8. 7. Hiring freelancers fuels job creation and improves our global economy. As more businesses hire professionals online, they help create more work. Freelancers already contribute approximately $1.4 trillion annually to the U.S. economy, an increase of almost 30% since last year. Globally, McKinsey estimates that online talent platforms could add $2.7T to GDP. This impact is especially beneficial in places where local economies have been shattered. When companies make even small shifts toward more distributed workforces, the outsize impact can be surprising. Source: Freelancing in America: 2017

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